Paul Lansky – Contemplating Weather

The more I hear Paul Lansky’s post-serial music, the more I like it. This new release features three such works: Contemplating Weather for chorale and 11 instruments; Travel Diary for percussion duo; and It All Adds Up for piano duo.

Contemplating Weather has what I would describe as a post-tonal Copland character to it. The harmonies are very modal in spots, and the choir has a big, expansive sound. Jonathan Greene’s insightful verses about how we perceive the weather are interspersed with instrumental
interludes. The various combinations of the 11 instruments provide contrast to the primarily homophonic choral.

Travel Diary is loosely based on a road trip Lansky once took. This duo percussion piece imaginatively portrays the various stages of the trip, from leaving home, through getting lost in the city, and finally arriving at the destination. Lansky’s use of percussion is always imaginative, with a mixture of tuned and indefinite pitch instruments that never sounds hackneyed or contrived.

In the liner notes, Lansky says the pieces that comprise It All Adds Up as doing “a variety of things in the way of navigating the area between tonal and post-tonal harmonies.” The result is a piano duo work that sometimes frantically jazzy, like a player piano spinning out of control. At times Lansky skates close to atonality, but more often embraces tonality with vibrant lyricism.

The more I hear Paul Lansky’s post-serial music, the more I like it. And I liked this release a lot.

Paul Lansky: Contemplating Weather
Western Michigan University Chorale; Birds on a Wire; Kimberly Dunn Adams, conductor
Meehan/Perkins Duo; Quattro Maini
Bridge Records 9447

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